Olympiacos tops Laboral and punches Top 16 ticket
In a physical, defensive showdown that went down to the wire, Olympiacos Piraeus qualified to the Top 16 from Group B by downing Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz 59-52 at home on Thursday. Olympiacos was without four key players and lost superstar Vassilis Spanoulis midway through the fourth quarter, but managed to improve to 6-1 and seal its ticket to the next stage. Laboral dropped to 4-3. Spanoulis led the winners with 10 points, but seven other players scored 6 or more. Ioannis Bourousis led Laboral with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Jaka Blazic and Darius Adams each had 11 points for the visitors. Vangelis Mantzaris led a 12-1 opening run, which allowed the hosts to keep a 12-6 margin after 10 minutes. Olympiacos boosted its margin to 36-22 at halftime, but Laboral, led by an outstanding Bourousis, cut its deficit to 46-39 at the end of the third quarter and then again to 51-49 with three minutes left. Mantzaris hit a key three-pointer and Ioannis Athinaiou also buried one from beyond the arc to seal the outcome down the stretch.
First quarter: Defenses set the early tone
D.J. Strawberry got Olympiacos going with a reverse layup and Spanoulis scored in penetration for a 4-0 lead. Laboral was held scoreless in the opening three minutes, while a layup Dimitrios Agravanis and a three-pointer by Vangelis Mantzaris prompted the guests to call timeout at 9-0. After Adam Hanga split free throws, a three-point play by Mantzaris gave the Reds their first double-digit lead, 12-1. Bourouis tried to change things with a three-point play and Fabien Causeur added a layup off a steal to make it 12-6. Ioannis Papapetrou left the game with a sprained ankle, though he would later return. Olympiacos started to miss shots, as the game turned into a physical battle. Neither team scored in the final five minutes of the quarter, combining for 13 missed shots and 8 turnovers.
Second quarter: Olympiacos takes off
Othello Hunter scored around the basket early in the quarter and a coast-to-coast layup by Daniel Hackett set a 16-6 Olympiacos margin. Laboral kept struggling to score and Spanoulis downed his trademark stop-and-pop jumper for a 12-point lead. Jaka Blazic hit an off-balance shot and soon added a close basket to keep the guests within 19-10. Agravanis made free throws, but Blazic answered with a put-back basket. Ioannis Athinaiou boosted his team's lead to 23-12. Blazic struck from downtown and a put-back layup by Alberto Corbacho caused the Reds to call timeout at 23-17. Bourousis scored down low, but Hunter dunked and a layup by Strawberry gave Olympiacos a 27-19 advantage. Bourousis took over with a put-back basket, but Hunter and Agravanis answered with consecutive layups. Papapetrou returned to action and ignited the crowd with a reverse layup and a jump hook off a spin move, good for a 36-22 Olympiacos lead at halftime.
Third quarter: Laboral keeps its chances alive
Bourousis hit a mid-range jumper immediately after the break and Hanga added a fast break layup that made it 36-26. Spanoulis stepped up with a second-chance basket, as Laboral switched to a small lineup with Hanga at power forward. Olympiacos dominated the game with outstanding defense, now allowing Laboral to run its offense through Bourousis. Spanoulis and Darius Adams exchanged foul shots and a one-handed dunk by Hunter brought the crowd to its feet at 42-28. Hackett took over with a wild driving layup, which Adams matched with an acrobatic basket. Blazic scored in penetration and free throws by Bourousis gave Laboral hope at 44-34. Olympiacos could not find a way to the basket and free throws by Bourousis got the guests within single digits. Adams swished a seven-meter bomb, but Michais Tsairelis beat the buzzer with a layup that gave the Reds a 46-39 lead.
Fourth quarter: Excitement till the end
Hackett hit a tough turnaround shot early in the quarter, but Corbacho immediately answered from downtown to keep Laboral within 48-42. Spanoulis split free throws and left the game after that due to a leg injury, Bourousis hit a jump hook and a layup-plus-foul by Hanga made it a 2-point game with 7 minutes left. Olympiacos lacked ball circulation without Spanoulis on court, but Papapetrou shined with a one-handed breakaway dunk that caused the guests call timeout at 51-47. Adams scored off a midcourt steal to keep Laboral within 2 with three minutes to go. After Mantzaris buried a critical three-pointer, Adams made free throws. Athinaiou struck from downtown, which prompted Laboral to stop the game at 57-51 in the next-to-last minute. Bourousis split free throws and a layup by Strawberry sealed the outcome, 59-52, as the guests never recovered.
Thursday, November 26, 2015